It’s been a while since I’ve posted, mainly because I’ve spent the last month settling into my new job. Just within the first month, there have been some ups and downs. Let’s get into it:
Going through onboarding online is…interesting. It can definitely make meeting people much more difficult. There’s no opportunity to just pop by a coworker’s office. On the upside, I didn’t have to worry about getting paraded around the office on my first day either like the new girl in a 90’s coming-of-age movie – an introvert’s nightmare, by the way.
Instead, I got to meet folks one-on-one via Zoom. Sure, having a bunch of back-to-back one-on-ones that first week was slightly exhausting BUT, I was able to connect with each person on a much deeper level than I would’ve otherwise. Not to mention that I got to decompress at home, where I’m most comfortable. I know this scenario is not ideal for everyone but for me, this was kind of a dream. There can be a lot of downtime during those first few weeks because ya don’t know enough to really do anything yet and the folks training you still have their own jobs to do. So when I wasn’t shadowing appointments or sitting through orientations, it was nice to be at home rather than mulling around in an undecorated, freezing office, waiting for the next training or reading through the plethora of provided training materials (let’s be honest: does anyone actually read all of that?)
Speaking of One-On-Ones
Because of my introversion, I don’t do well with small talk. Let me rephrase. I am perfectly capable of participating in small talk but it is not my preferred mode of communication. It often feels superfluous and unnecessary, like all the filler everyone used in order to meet that minimum 15-page requirement on the final paper in high school English class.
But to get back on topic, those one-on-ones are great for someone like me because we can minimize the small talk and connect on a deeper level. Once we get past all of the, “Have you moved yet?” and “Where did you work before?”, we were able to talk more earnestly about the job, the office culture, potential for collaboration, more personal likes and dislikes – all that good stuff that might take longer to get to during ordinary times. And I’m sure this isn’t just because of the online setting but also because if this pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that life is too short to always take the long way to get to the good stuff.
Change in Mindset
For those who know me personally, you know the many reasons why I switched jobs. My previous work environment was no longer healthy for me. When I started this new job, I quickly became disheartened to find that a lot of the issues I thought I had left behind, existed here too. I was so naive to think that problems such as I experienced in one place wouldn’t exist anywhere else. I hate to say this but my mom was right when she said that there are issues everywhere. But I was excited about the job itself and so I knew I had to go into this new work environment with a different mindset.
First off, my colleagues are not my family.
That sounds harsh but that kind of thinking is what got me into a toxic relationship with my previous job in the first place. When you see your workplace as a second home and the people within it as another family, then you set yourself up for exploitation and hurt feelings. People will take advantage of you and you’ll feel guilty for setting boundaries because, “We’re family, right?”. You’ll feel pressured into doing more work, without more compensation, for the good of your second family. Except, they’re not your family and this extra work operates as a one-way street – meaning you don’t get compensated for it. To put it more eloquently,
It works to improve productivity because it takes advantage of feelings of emotional attachment by inducing guilt if the employee doesn’t work toward the common goal of the “family.”Lance R. Fletcher, An Injustice Mag, 2020
There are tons of articles on the toxicity of “family culture” in business, so I won’t go too in-depth here. Rather, I say all of this to make the point that I had to unlearn this way of viewing my job and my colleagues.
If I had not bought into the idea of work as family, then I wouldn’t have done the following:
- Taken every critique, slight, or unfair treatment personally
- Taken my work problems home mentally
- Let my work take up emotional and mental space in my heart and mind
- Tied my self-worth to my productivity
- Tied my entire identity as a person to my work
So, when I began this new job, I knew I’d either have to change jobs (or frankly just work for myself because: see mom’s advice above) or change my mindset. I chose the latter:
- This is a job, nothing more, nothing less
- I’ll give this job 110%…from 9am – 5pm
- I will care but not carry – as in, I can care about my job without carrying it home with me (side note: I learned this saying from one of my new colleagues who learned it from her best friend. Her best friend and I went to college and lived in the same dorm freshman year. Small world!)
And already I’m feeling more balanced, at ease and fulfilled. Because here’s the thing: I love what I do for a living! I really do and I was getting bummed at the thought that I may have to leave the field because of all the challenges I was encountering. At the end of the day, however, problems do exist everywhere regardless of the career field. Even if I worked for myself, I’d still have challenges. But with this new mindset, I’ve been better able to see the silver lining of why I do what I do.